“The Media Company for the Social Age.” That, my friends, is what the popular “news” site BuzzFeed proudly proclaims to be.
I personally think that’s complete bull. But that’s my opinion. I proudly bear the unpopular opinion that BuzzFeed is the worst.
BuzzFeed’s “about” section contains the following self-description:
“BuzzFeed is the leading media company for social news and entertainment, intensely focused on delivering high-quality original reporting, insight, and viral content across a rapidly expanding array of subject areas. Our technology powers the social distribution of content, detects what is trending on the web, and connects people in realtime with the hottest content of the moment. Our site is rapidly growing and reaches more than 80 million monthly unique visitors. Jonah Peretti, founder & CEO of BuzzFeed, previously co-founded the Huffington Post. Ben Smith is its Editor-in-Chief, Jon Steinberg is its President & COO and Kenneth Lerer is the Executive Chairman.”
BuzzFeed is known for making lists, so I compiled my own nine reasons why it’s absolutely awful.
1. “BuzzFeed is the leading media company for social news and entertainment…”
Not to turn this into a high school graduation speech, but according to Merriam-Webster, “news” is defined as “new information or a report about something that has happened recently.” With this in mind, I have a lot of trouble calling any of their compilations of lifted Instagram photos “news.”
2. “...intensely focused on delivering high quality…”
How exactly does one deem a website made up of GIFs “high quality”? Is there some sort of scale? I imagine the thought process of the intern put in charge of writing this description went a little something like this:
“Well, we’re not exactly the New York Times … but we’re more credible than my Aunt Sheila’s Facebook statuses. And we do sometimes leave original artists’ watermarks on their photos. By golly, we are high quality!”
3. “…original reporting…”
There are two mistakes in this excerpt: “original” and “reporting.” If there is any original content in the depths of BuzzFeed, I sure haven’t seen it. As an avid low-life with nothing better to do, I’ve noticed an astounding amount of what it publishes has already gone full-circle on both Reddit and Tumblr before being sandwiched between a cat GIF and incredibly uncreative headline. And as for reporting, I highly doubt anyone who has written a top story for BuzzFeed had to do any serious research to get there.
4. “…insight, and viral content…”
OK, viral content. I’ll let them have this one. But the score so far is at a staggering 3-to-1. Let’s see if they can redeem themselves in the rest of the paragraph.
5. “…across a rapidly expanding array of subject areas.”
Maybe if you consider an obsession with the 1990s, fandoms and Disney movies as vast and expanding.
6. “Our technology…”
What technology? The iPhone you used to take the screenshots you publish?
7. “…powers the social distribution of content, detects what is trending on the web, and connects people in realtime with the hottest content of the moment.”
This is where I am confused by BuzzFeed’s purpose. So, they want to take what’s already trending on the Internet, and put it all in one place? But isn’t it already in one place — a place called the Internet? If people wanted to see what was trending on Tumblr, they’d log onto Tumblr. The way I see it, BuzzFeed collects content that has already been deemed popular and then publishes it again, after the hype has spread, nulling this so-called “realtime” connection.
8. “Our site is rapidly growing and reaches more than 80 million monthly unique visitors.”
Really, 80 million unique people? Because about half of them commented on an article about Lizzie McGuire last week saying that they feel exactly the same way.
9. “Jonah Peretti, founder & CEO of BuzzFeed, previously co-founded the Huffington Post. Ben Smith is its Editor-in-Chief, Jon Steinberg is its President & COO and Kenneth Lerer is the Executive Chairman.”
The CEO co-founded the Huffington Post?! Gah. Don’t even get me started.